What Do Hospice Social Workers Do?

In hospice, a licensed medical social worker (LMSW) has special training in end-of-life care. Hospice social workers may help a family fill out medical paperwork, or arrange homemaker services for a hospice patient and spouse living alone. A social worker will know of community services patients and families can tap into.

As part of the VITAS interdisciplinary team, social workers love to get families members in touch, arrange an outing for a patient or throw a party for someone who needs more than just medical attention.

“Our patients know they are going to die,” says one VITAS social worker. “But they still want to feel good, and we want them to feel good”. 

How Can a Hospice Social Worker Help a Patient and Family?

  • Assist with preparing forms for an advance directive, do not resuscitate (DNR) order or a physician order for life-sustaining treatment (POLST).
  • Contact organizations that offer resources you and your family could benefit from, such as Meals-on-Wheels or Life Alert®.
  • Assist in filling out and filing insurance, Medicare and Medicaid paperwork.
  • Guide your family in making major healthcare decisions about your loved one.
  • Find local counseling services and support groups for family members.
  • Coordinate emotional and spiritual support for you and/or your loved one.
  • Help with funeral planning.
  • Assist in filling out paperwork required after death occurs.

People ask if hospice work is depressing. Any team member will tell you hospice work is a privilege, and it’s uplifting work. For social workers especially, the emphasis is on life.

Call VITAS to learn more about hospice and palliative care options.